Essay Civil War – College
Essay Civil War – College

Essay Civil War – College

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  • Pages: 18 (4938 words)
  • Published: January 8, 2019
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The Cause

Americans have always been a self-reliant population.

Throughout history, our aversion to authority has persisted. This sentiment remains constant in the present, past, and future. Our defiance originated during the early colonial era (1700), when we first embraced the identity of "Americans." Prior to this period, specifically in the 1600s, we simply existed as settlers in the newly established America.

In the 1700's, we engaged in a conflict with the British to prevent the alliance between France and Spain. Additionally, we established various significant institutions, namely the Pennsylvania Gazett newspaper under Benjamin Franklin's publication. Initiating the first American public library and hospital were among our noteworthy achievements. Moreover, Benjamin Franklin served as the Postmaster General, overseeing the initiation of the postal service.

All was not perfect in the colonies. The English Parliament ra


ised taxes on various imported items, including sugar, coffee, textiles, and wines, leading us to raise the issue of taxation without representation. Furthermore, the Parliament implemented the Quartering Act, which mandated colonists to accommodate British troops and provide them with food. The American Revolution began on April 19, 1775, when an unexpected shot was fired.

If the question pertains to the events leading to South Carolina's secession, it is necessary to delve into the American Revolution. This is crucial in comprehending the character of Americans and their willingness to protect themselves. While advocating for what is righteous may not be entirely accurate, given that slavery was inherently wrong and not all battles were justifiable, it remains significant to acknowledge that South Carolina and numerous southern states deemed slave ownership as their entitlement. This conviction can be traced back to early colonial America when a Dutc

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ship brought twenty Africans as indentured servants in 1619, thus inaugurating slavery in America. The introduction of Eli Whitney's cotton gin in 1793 further amplified the demand for enslaved laborers to sustain cotton production.

In less than forty years, the anti-slavery movement gained momentum in the north. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" played a significant role in spreading the anti-slavery message and rallying previously apathetic Americans to join the cause. Meanwhile, the south grew increasingly concerned about the mounting opposition to slavery and its potential consequences for its continuation.

Both slave owners and non-slave owners in the South saw the anti-slavery movement as a challenge to their established lifestyle that revolved around slavery. Their way of life, which had relied on slavery for more than 240 years, was now being questioned and strongly criticized. It is important to recognize that slaves played a crucial part in the Southern economy by producing goods and generating wealth for their owners. As a result, slave owners were unwilling to give up their advantageous position.

When Abraham Lincoln became president in November 1860, South Carolina recognized that their ability to keep slaves was coming to an end. President Lincoln's strong opposition to slavery worried the South Carolina legislature. In reaction, they called for a state convention and delegates decided to withdraw from the United States. In December, South Carolina seceded from the union, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

A Violent Conflict

This led to a short but extremely violent war.

The initial expectations were for a swift Civil War, with both the Confederates and the Union being certain of their triumph. However, this perception changed during the battle of

Shiloh as unforeseen technological advancements unexpectedly affected both sides. The war caught them off guard with inexperienced commanders, outdated military tactics, and newly invented weaponry.

The War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the current war exhibit contrasting characteristics due to advancements in technology. Commanders faced challenges as they were ill-equipped to adapt to new warfare methods compared to previous conflicts. Many generals relied on their knowledge from past wars and textbooks from West Point. The conventional tactics heavily depended on close order formations of infantry, wherein both sides would align themselves, aim their muskets at each other, and fire upon command. This approach proved effective initially when both sides utilized Smoothbore muskets that had a firing range of about eighty yards and required twenty-five seconds for reloading.

The Union soldiers were the pioneers in using new rifles with spiral grooves inside their barrels. These rifles enhanced the range and accuracy of the bullets by giving them a spin. The confederates quickly adopted this innovation. James H. Burton improved the Minie ball, making it easier to load into the rifle barrel and further enhancing the effectiveness of these modern rifles.

Despite the improved speed, accuracy, and range of the new rifles, the generals on both sides continued to treat them as if they were old muskets. This resulted in a devastating loss of life during frontal assaults. The advancements in weaponry surpassed those in medicine, leading to an overwhelming number of casualties and wounded soldiers for both sides.

President Lincoln established the United States Sanitary Commission in response to the widespread amputations caused by the new Minie ball, resulting in soldiers losing their limbs. This organization took on the

responsibility of caring for sick and injured Union soldiers. One of its goals was to educate soldiers about hygiene practices to prevent diseases and infections. Surprisingly, more fatalities were caused by illnesses like Typhoid, Pneumonia, and diarrhea than by direct combat. In fact, two soldiers died from these ailments for every one killed in action.

Hospitals started appearing in various locations, with hotels being transformed into temporary medical facilities. The shortage of hospitals, nurses, and volunteers were a result of the introduction of new weapons. One crucial development in naval warfare during the Civil War occurred on March 8, 1862, when the Confederates revealed the "Merrimack" vessel. This ship revolutionized naval warfare by rendering wooden hull ships obsolete. The Confederates reinforced the "Merrimack" with two layers of steel plate on its hull, equipped it with ten guns along its side, and added a ram to its bow.

In its initial engagement at Hampton Roads harbor, the unsinkable ship attacked five Union ships. Renamed as the "Virginia," the Merrimack successfully sank one ship, caused another to explode, and forced a third to run aground. The impervious armor of the Merrimack deflected all enemy shots. Ironically, after the Union navy riddled it with holes, the Merrimack was abandoned to sink.

"The Virginia's" fame was short-lived. Originally a frigate used by the Union navy, it was subsequently modified with steel by the Confederate navy. This vessel had sluggish speed due to its reliance on outdated engines, taking a staggering half an hour to execute a turn.

The "Monitor", an ironclad ship being built by the Union navy, was under construction at Hampton Roads harbor three months prior to the attack. Designed by

John Ericsson, this vessel was constructed within a short timeframe of three months. The "Monitor" boasted features such as a revolving turret, two eleven-inch guns, and an auxiliary steam engine. In comparison to the "Virginia", it proved to be twice as fast and significantly more maneuverable.

On March 9, the day after the victory of the "Virginia" at Hampton Roads harbor, its brief rule over the seas ended as the "Monitor" from Brooklyn arrived. The two ships engaged in a fierce battle resulting in a tie. This battle revolutionized naval warfare by making wooden fleets obsolete.

Forever Free

President Lincoln consistently asserted that the Civil War primarily concerned state secession. He campaigned on the promise of not abolishing slavery but rather preventing its expansion. At the start of the war, Lincoln was returning all escaped slaves to their respective owners without any intention of granting them freedom.

During the war, there was growing pressure on Lincoln to highlight the significance of ending slavery. He grew increasingly angry with the war due to its high casualties and missed opportunities in battles, as well as commanders who seemed hesitant. Twice, Lincoln had to dismiss McClellan from his role as commander. In fact, he even expressed his frustration by saying, "If General McClellan does not wish to utilize the army, I would be interested in borrowing it temporarily." This statement demonstrates Lincoln's frustration in seeking victory during this conflict.

During the Civil War, frustration was not limited to the battlefield but also extended to the political arena. The Peace Democrats, gaining popularity in the north, urged Lincoln to end the war and restore the pre-war status quo. Ending the war would have achieved

the main goal of preventing secession. In response to an editorial in the "New York Tribune," Abraham Lincoln asserted that he would preserve the Union through any means necessary, regardless of whether it involved emancipating no slaves or all slaves. It was evident that Lincoln's primary objective was to prevent secession. Furthermore, mainstream acceptance and respect for Abolitionists in the north added pressure on Lincoln.

After being ongoing for more than a year, the war had caused numerous casualties among soldiers. Additionally, civil liberties were disregarded with individuals being detained without any legal proceedings. In order to back the war effort, the initial income tax was put into effect. The Abolitionists grew restless with their indecisive president and felt that the war should not solely focus on secession but also on permanently abolishing slavery in America. Considering the severe consequences of the conflict, nothing short of total elimination of slavery appeared satisfactory.

Abraham Lincoln recognized the importance of handling the anti-slavery movement carefully within the Union. The loyalty of the Border States, who were against ending slavery, was crucial to him as losing these states to the Confederates was not an option. Thus, Lincoln made efforts to convince the Border States to accept his proposal that included financial compensation for their losses in slaves.

Despite Lincoln's warning that public opinion in the country favored emancipation and it was bound to happen, the Border States rejected his proposal. Additionally, Lincoln had to take into account the viewpoints of foreign governments. At first, both the British and French governments chose not to get involved in the conflict. In 1861, Britain declared its neutrality despite objections from the United States, with

other governments following suit shortly after.

Lincoln's worry was that foreign governments would eventually recognize the Confederacy States. He recognized that endorsing emancipation would make it difficult for the British to support the Confederacy. On September 22, 1862, the President introduced the "Emancipation Proclamation."

Simply Murder

The economic situation worsened as the Civil War continued. The south's cotton sales were decreasing daily. The British had stockpiled a surplus of cotton before the war.

Egypt and India rapidly filled the void caused by the decline in cotton production in the southern states. Despite legal restrictions, southerners were illegally selling their cotton to northerners, worsening the already dire economic situation on both sides. Moreover, Jefferson Davis encountered resistance when proposing an income tax and demanding farmers to surrender ten percent of their crops to the confederate government. As a result of this inflationary pressure, prices soared in the south; for example, a single bar of soap cost a significant portion of a soldier's monthly salary and cotton prices surged to six times their pre-war levels.

Because of the war, acquiring coffee, tobacco, bread, and other food items became very costly. Jefferson Davis faced the challenge of financing the war without access to the same banking systems as Lincoln in the north. As a result, Davis relied heavily on financial support from southerners. This support primarily came through taxes, with farmers being required to contribute ten percent of their crops. Despite these efforts, funding for the war remained insufficient.

Jefferson Davis significantly increased the production of currency, resulting in the devaluation of the confederate dollar to the point of being virtually worthless. The speed at which Davis printed money was so rapid that counterfeiters

were apprehended because their counterfeit bills were of better quality than the actual confederate money. Consequently, the average southern family faced immense hardship during the war as inflation reached unprecedented levels.

The average family found the basic bread, coffee, and meats to be too expensive. Quartermasters of the Confederate army compensated for food and animals by using worthless promissory notes. Many soldiers of the families were Confederate soldiers who had not received payment in months. The desperate families' women rebelled and launched an assault on the Confederate capital and other cities.

Only when faced with the threat of violence from the Confederate army did the crowds disperse. Despite the Confederates seeming to have an advantage on the battlefield, they appeared to be losing support among white Southerners. Many became frustrated with the war's outcomes.

The Universe of Battle

The Civil War is three years old, and although Abraham Lincoln announced in January the Emancipation Proclamation, most people always knew that the war had to be about abolishing slavery. So how could those most affected sit back and simply watch? If African Americans had been given a chance from the beginning, they would have undoubtedly played a role in winning the Civil War within Lincoln's intended timeframe. Frederick Douglass once wrote, "Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S."

To earn citizenship, one must possess an eagle insignia on their button, carry a musket on their shoulder, and keep bullets in their pocket—no force can deny this. Imagine a scenario where Hawaii seeks to secede from the United States and regain independence as a kingdom. If you were in the military or drafted, you would fight

due to orders and unwavering loyalty to your country. Now envision Iraq invading the United States and enslaving its people. Both of us would fight until death or victory because the outcome directly affects us. This is why African Americans during the Civil War showed great enthusiasm for fighting for their cause.

While white men were becoming restless due to the war, resulting in a significant desertion of men from both sides, the Emancipation Proclamation announcement intensified their concerns. Many white men believed that their prospects of employment after the war would be negatively impacted. Democrats asserted that the newfound freedom of black men would create competition for jobs previously dominated by white men. Consequently, the war now directly affected both white and black individuals, with varying consequences. Notably, black men received lower salaries than their white counterparts in the Union army. The official explanation for this discrepancy was that black men were not intended to be at the front lines of battle.

Black men faced discrimination and dangerous circumstances in the Civil War. They were given inferior weapons, lower pay, and were denied the opportunity to hold higher ranks. They knew that if they were captured by the Confederate forces, they were likely to be killed. Despite these challenging conditions, black men still volunteered to serve as Union soldiers.

The Brutality of War

There are those who still view General Sherman's campaigns in the Carolinas and his March to the Sea as horrifying crusades. Even some Northerners are reluctant to accept the brutal tactics he employed. Nevertheless, the undeniable outcomes of his actions cannot be ignored.

The American Civil War was arguably

brought to an end by the "horrific crusades". While Ulyss S. Grant and his army of the Potomac were stuck in front of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in Petersburg, William Tecumseh Sherman made his way through the heart of the Southern Confederacy. He employed a strategic turning movement, unlike his counterparts in the Army of the Potomac and other Union armies who would foolishly engage in direct attacks on enemy works. General Sherman repeatedly displaced the Confederates with precision. He practiced what was known as "total war", where all restraints are removed.

No aspect of the enemy's society is exempt from attack. According to William Tecumseh Sherman, war encompasses not only armies but also societies. He argued that if the people who sent their sons to war witnessed the horrific reality of it, they would plead for its cessation. By implementing this belief and inflicting it upon the state of South Carolina during the Campaign of the Carolinas, William Tecumseh Sherman gained the reputation of being undoubtedly the most despised figure in South Carolina's history.

South Carolina played a unique role in both the start of the American Civil War (through the firing on Fort Sumter) and as the first state to secede from the Union. According to General William Tecumeh Sherman, this small yet confident state was responsible for the four years of hardship endured during the war. South Carolina would face consequences, as General Sherman hoped that Major Anderson's occupation of Fort Sumter in 1861 would demonstrate that the state could not act as it pleased. General Ulysses S. Grant instructed Sherman to cause as much damage as possible to the Southern war resources.

The destruction of the Southern war machine was a crucial aspect of President Lincoln's "divide and conquer" strategy. Sherman viewed Atlanta as his ultimate prize, with the Appalachian Mountains and the Confederate Army serving as its protectors.

Sherman deemed Atlanta as a military encampment and commanded the evacuation of its civilian population. From September to November, Sherman's troops defensively protected the city. The Confederates attempted multiple unsuccessful attacks, proving their endeavors fruitless. Subsequently, the Confederates initiated a northward march, hoping to eradicate Sherman's supply line. In order to divide the Confederacy, Sherman strategically devised his March to the Sea. Commencing in November 1864, Sherman embarked upon his notorious March to the Sea.

Before leaving Atlanta, he ignited munitions factories, railroad yards, clothing mills, and other strategic targets for the Confederacy. Sherman did not initially plan to burn down the entire city, but the fire grew uncontrollable and spread across the entire area. Simultaneously, the Confederates made efforts to destroy railroad tracks. Realizing the impracticality of defending a stretched communication line, Sherman resolved to sever his own supply lines and lead his army through Georgia, obliterating everything in their path. His calculated belief held true - this approach would hasten the end of the war. On November 15th, Sherman commenced his march through Georgia.

His army was split into two divisions. Major-Generals O.O. Howard and H.W. Slocum led the two wings, comprising a total of sixty-two thousand soldiers. On the 14th of November, Atlanta was set on fire.

Every day, the men would march between 10 and 15 miles. To gather food and forage, foraging parties were sent out on the flanks. These parties were very successful, allowing the soldiers

to eat roasted pigs, chickens, and sweet potatoes instead of army rations. Thanks to their good physical condition, the union soldiers were able to cover great distances. Furthermore, Sherman's army included backwoodsmen who could improvise in rough terrain and freemen who were familiar with the area.

The Confederates believed that the union army would find the march impossible. Sherman sent a telegram to Lincoln on December 23, 1864, informing him that he was giving him the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift after his victory there. Following this victory, Sherman's troops fought against General Joe Johnston's troops in South Carolina and North Carolina. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865, and General Joe Johnston surrendered to Sherman on April 17, 1865, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sherman understood that a nation could prevail in war by destroying the opposing side's ability to fight and that an army could achieve this by targeting the enemy's economic infrastructure as well as engaging their troops. Sherman's reputation as a commander comes from his belief in total war, which is the concept that armed conflict involves not just a battle between military forces but also between the societies of the rival states.

The military prestige of Sherman is primarily attributed to his visionary strategic and operational concepts, as well as his army's effective implementation of those ideas. In this regard, Sherman is considered the first commander of the modern era. Although some may question whether Sherman's tactics were excessively severe and caused suffering for innocent individuals, Sherman himself eloquently expressed, "War is Cruelty and you cannot refine it." Similarly, similar to President Truman's difficult decision to drop the Atomic bomb

on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to bring an end to the Second World War and save more lives than if the war had persisted, Sherman's tough decision ultimately concluded the Civil War and consequently saved more lives compared to its continuation.

Sherman believed he was following Lincoln's desire to mend the scars of war by presenting more favorable terms than Grant had proposed to Lee. Nonetheless, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, consumed by bitterness due to Lincoln's assassination, which he suspected was influenced by the Confederate government, declined to endorse the terms. On April 26, Johnston was compelled to surrender his 37,000 soldiers under the same conditions established by Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House. Moreover, the war significantly hindered the South's progress in both industry and agriculture, setting them back for at least a generation.

The invading armies caused extensive destruction to factories and farms, leading to chaos in the labor system. It took until the 20th century for the South to fully recover from the economic aftermath of the war. In contrast, the North progressed significantly in establishing a modern industrial state. The war resulted in unprecedented spending, surpassing any previous period in American history.

In 1860, the federal budget was $63 million, but by 1865, federal government expenditures had soared to nearly $1.3 billion (a 200-fold increase) without even factoring in the money spent by the Confederate government. According to an estimate in 1879, war-related costs for the United States up until that point were put at $6.1 billion, which includes future pension payments. Although figures for the Confederacy are uncertain, one estimation suggests expenditures reached $2 billion by 1863. Unfortunately, records

for Confederate expenditures are unavailable after 1863. Regardless of the exact totals, it is undeniable that the war caused an unprecedented growth in expenses and debt.

The war caused massive economic destruction to the South, with the Confederate states losing two-thirds of their wealth. Emancipation resulted in the loss of slave property, contributing significantly to this decline. Additionally, the South's economic infrastructure suffered severe damage, including shambles railroads and industries. More than half of all farm machinery was destroyed, and 40 percent of livestock was killed. In contrast, the Northern economy thrived during the war, with a 50 percent increase in wealth between 1860 and 1870. Conversely, Southern wealth decreased by 60 percent during the same decade. The Civil War brought about significant changes and saw many individuals and companies play significant roles in our country's tremendous growth.

During this time, the U.S. experienced a significant economic boom, largely attributed to the rapid expansion of railways. After the Civil War, the nation witnessed astonishing economic growth, although certain regions had endured significant hardships before this happened.

The South suffered extensive economic devastation as a result of the war, with the Confederate states experiencing a two-thirds decline in their wealth. This substantial loss can be attributed to emancipation and the consequent depletion of slave property, and also to severe damage inflicted upon the South's economic infrastructure, such as railroads and industries.

Over half of the farm machinery was destroyed and 40% of the livestock was killed. In contrast, the Northern economy flourished during the war, with a 50% increase in wealth from 1860 to 1870. Meanwhile, the Southern economy experienced a decline of nearly 60% during the same

period, showcasing the economic impacts of the war. Additionally, the war had a profound effect on the South's industry and agriculture, setting them back at least one generation as invading armies devastated factories and farms.

The labor system in the South fell into chaos, but it wasn't until the 20th century that the region fully recovered from the economic effects of the war. In contrast, the North thrived and became a modern industrial state. This growth was evident in the nation's population, which almost tripled after the civil war, as well as in the monumental increase in farm production and manufacturing needs.

witnessed an abundant industrial revolution during this time and continually grew into the world's preeminent economic power. Huge corporations were formed, which began a domination over the economy during the late 19th century. This new way of business brought about many changes with it. Entrepreneurs who had worked on simple things for small businesses in the past began devoting their work to the inventions of mass production and distribution. As the larger companies continued buying out the smaller ones, the result was even larger, and more powerful firms.

If there were multiple large companies in one industry, they would unite in an effort to dominate their respective industries. This new concept of large and growing businesses and monopolies had a significant impact on the economy and social structure of the nation. It also played a role in sparking organized labor movements. The Civil War served as a catalyst for rapid economic growth, leading to significant expansion in the production of copper, railroad track, cotton, woolen textiles, and pig iron in the years immediately following the war.

However, due to the war's limited mechanization and focus on weaponry such as rifles, bayonets, sabers, artillery, and ammunition, which required less iron, production declined due to wartime conditions and loss of markets in the south. As expected, there was significant inflation during the war, benefiting property owners and entrepreneurs who engaged in speculative activities during the immediate post-war period. The National Bank was quickly established to ensure a stable currency, although its impact on the economy was mixed.

Railways received government support, both in terms of financial assistance and verbal encouragement. Post-war tariffs hindered foreign competitors and discouraged the exportation of American products. As mentioned earlier, railroads played a crucial role in the nation's development, particularly in the economic expansion following the Civil War. The demand for a transcontinental railway connection was high among the public.

This demand was initially raised by American statesmen John Plumbe and Robert John Walker around 1836. The public demand grew further due to the gold rush of 1849 and concerns about possible annexation of the Northwest by Canada. As a result, the Union Pacific Railroad began construction during the American Civil War to establish a transcontinental line. Simultaneously, railroad construction in the Eastern and Midwestern regions halted.

The Union Pacific and other railroad companies were given federal land grants in 1862, leading to a significant increase in the total mileage of railroads. By 1900, the rail network had expanded from 30,600 miles to an impressive 199,000 miles. These rail lines were crucial in connecting the country and thus received substantial support from the government. In total, the railroad companies were granted around 129 million acres of federal land and also received

financial assistance from federal, state, and local governments. Altogether, they obtained nearly $707 million in cash and $335 million worth of land.

The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were connected in Promontory, Utah in 1869, creating the first coast-to-coast transcontinental connection. The Union Pacific, comprised of ex-soldiers and Irish immigrants, faced challenges such as water shortages, harsh weather, and Indian attacks. These workers, known as "Hell-on-wheels," worked rapidly but with many mistakes. In contrast, the Central Pacific, owned by Sacramento shopkeepers, employed primarily Chinese immigrants.

Thousands of Chinese immigrants came to the U.S., initially in search of gold and later for railroad jobs. The majority of these immigrants were single men, hoping to accumulate wealth before returning to China to marry and purchase property. Their determination to achieve their dreams pushed them to work even harder than typical American workers, resulting in dangerous labor conditions and meager pay.

Chinese immigrants in the construction of railroad companies were frequently injured and witnessed death. They earned the nickname "Robber Barons" because of the unethical financial practices conducted by railroad men. These practices involved exploiting construction companies that were under the control of insiders, resulting in shameless profiteering. Reflecting on the past, it is astonishing that the war endured for four years, especially considering that the North had numerous advantages. By 1860, the Union consisted of 22 states (with three more joining before 1865) and had a total population of 22 million.

The Confederate states, totaling 11 in number, had a population of only 9 million people, which included approximately 4 million enslaved black individuals. The North possessed the majority of factories that could manufacture war supplies, along with a

strong railway system and a merchant marine that facilitated global trade. Conversely, the South primarily consisted of agricultural land.

Despite producing desired products like cotton, the South's lack of ships and closed ports hindered their ability to meet Europe's demands. The Southern commanders, often praised for their superiority, proved formidable except for Lee who was overpowered by Grant's numbers and strong determination. Although Stonewall Jackson was unmatched as a corps commander, he tragically lost his life before the war was even halfway through. In contrast, Union commanders in the West clearly surpassed their Confederate counterparts.

Neither Grant, Sherman, nor Thomas had any Confederate leader as their equal. Similarly, in naval operations, Foote, Farragut, and Porter faced no Confederate counterpart. There was little difference between the morale of the North and the South. Both sides experienced common occurrences of desertion. The North had its share of Copperheads, bounty jumpers, and draft rioters, while many Northerners grew weary of the war well before its conclusion.

Draft dodging and tax evasion were widespread in the South, and there were individuals who amassed fortunes by prioritizing luxury goods over war supplies and evading the blockade. The South had two significant advantages: it did no

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